Hello ladies, gentlemen, and everything between and beyond; welcome to the next installment of
Harry Potter meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer City of Ashes. We’ve finally come to the chapter from which the book derives its name, and just like in the previous book, it really isn’t all that important to the actual plot. This might lead you to wonder why the book and this chapter have the same name. The answer is simple – so CC could maintain her naming scheme.
Sometimes, this kind of thing works. For example, all the books in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series have titles following the “[article] [noun] [preposition] [other noun]” scheme. Except there it actually kind of ties in to the events of the novel. A Game of Thrones deals primarily with politics (and the phrase is even said at one point); A Clash of Kings is mostly about the War of the Five Kings; A Storm of Swords brings the War to a close; A Feast for Crows deals with the aftermath of the War of the Five Kings; and A Dance with Dragons does the same, while also bringing some of the focus back to Daenerys, who we hadn’t seen since Storm.
That’s not the case here, though – here, CC seems to have just gone with these titles because they sound cool, just like the name of the series as a whole.
Anyway, as you might remember, the last chapter saw the plot finally take the stage after hanging around in the wings for about four chapters. Yes, I know the Harry Potter books would spend the first few chapters re-establishing the status quo, and Rowling certainly didn’t wait until almost a fifth of the way through to make Harry & co. aware of the main plot. It was okay in the first book, CC, because you had quite a bit to establish (or at least, you should have), but that’s not the case her.
But I’ve wasted enough time, so let’s get to it.
We’re still in Clary’s head, proving that CC is at least aware of how to maintain tension. She’s been given a grand total of two magic tattoos: one that looks like an eye, the purpose of which is unexplained, but presumably lets her see through glamours (which I thought she could already do, but whatever); and another that will give her some kind of protection, though exactly how is left unclear. One thing is clear, though – even Isabelle realized that Clary would be utterly useless in a fight.
So they take a cab to the cemetery, and as they go to the Silent City’s entrance, Clary takes note of several of the Shadowhunter names engraved on the wall:
Youngblood, Fairchild, Thrushcross, Nightwine, Ravenscar.
You know I notice about all of these? They have a decidedly English sound, which is odd, given how they’re supposed to be from a place “between Germany and France.”
Shoddy World Building: 1
Anyway, they reach the statue, and Clary tells them that Brother Jeremiah used a magic rune to open the door last time. Alec is hesitant to try that, and says that the Silent Brothers should have known they were coming and opened the door. So he then decides to cut his palm and rub the blood on the statue. Guess he didn’t plan on using that hand anyway. But it is nice to see that at least this place has better security than their home base.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Clary’s “I’ll just go there on my own” threat kind of fails, because I doubt she’d be able to get inside.
This of course works, but the tunnel leading down is completely dark. Clary makes the brilliant observation that “Something’s wrong.”
No Shit Sherlock: 1
Wow, haven’t seen one of those since chapter 3.
Clary pulls out the magic glowing rock Jace gave her back in the first book, and Alec leads the way down, with Isabelle bringing up the rear. As they pass by all the mausoleums, Alec makes this observation:
Alec looked somberly down the rows. “I never thought I would enter the Silent City,” he said. “Not even in death.”
To which Clary responds thusly:
“I wouldn’t sound so sad about it,” Clary said. “Brother Jeremiah told me what they do to your dead. They burn them up and use most of the ashes to make the City’s marble.”
First, Clary and/or CC once again demonstrates that she doesn’t understand how or what marble is. If anything, this sounds like a form of concrete. (Feel free to correct me on this, as I’m not a geologist.)
You Keep Using That Word: 1
Second, Clary, what the hell do you know about it? Isabelle points out immediately afterwards that that’s actually considered an honor by Shadowhunters. So yeah, Alec being worried about being excluded from something that important (presumably because he’s gay) makes perfect sense.
Our “Heroes”: 1
Isabelle also points out that mundanes also cremate corpses, but Clary thinks that it’s still “creepy”.
Our “Heroes”: 2
Girl, what do you know from creepy? You want real creepy? Check out the Sedlec Ossuary. That chapel incorporated the remains of between 40,000 and 70,000 people into the decorations and furnishings, including a chandelier. Don’t believe me? See for yourselves:
So yeah, don’t complain about how what the Shadowhunters do is weird/gross/creepy. Especially when you’re so damn eager to join their ranks.
As they move on, CC describes how the city smells, which I will commend her for. It’s all too easy for writers (especially beginning writers) to forget that descriptions in novels aren’t limited to the visual. In this case, Clary smells smoke and ashes (which were apparently there the last time… that’s a bit worrying), along with a rotting-fruit smell.
Alec decides that now is the time to pull out his totally-not-a-lightsaber. Why he didn’t do this sooner, say when they started down, I don’t know. And unless he respec’d for melee between books, I kind of doubt that thing will be all that useful.
They continue onward, and eventually reach the area where Clary got her brain scrambled in the last book, and they discover that the Silent Brothers are all dead, and the MacGuffin Sword is missing. All of which would be more shocking if we didn’t already learn this in the last chapter. Oh, and Clary has once again gone into observation mode, as Alec and Isabelle are the only ones commenting on this.
The two semi-professionals examine the scene for a bit, and I kind of like that they’re reacting differently: Isabelle is shocked and incredulous, Alec is cool and professional. Clary, as previously mentioned, has no reaction to anything.
*Our “Heroes”: 3
They find some bloody footprints and follow them down a hallway, which leads them to a set of doors hanging open.
Clary somehow just knows that Jace is on the other side. I’m not exaggerating, either – the narration actually says that she “somehow […] sensed him.” This is bad writing. Anytime a character “somehow” knows or senses or feels something, it says to me that the author couldn’t come up with a way to explain their actions, and didn’t feel like taking the time to figure one out.
Also, I’m reasonably certain that this is intended to show that Clary and Jace have a ‘special bond’ that no doubt is a sign of their ‘tru luv’.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 1
So Clary, having less sense of self-preservation than a suicidal lemming, sprints through the doors, and finds the jail cells, with Alec and Isabelle (you know, the ones who are actually armed) following behind. Clary immediately spots the corpse of Brother Jeremiah, but only after noticing a shape in the cell his corpse is in front of. Clary is about as bothered by Jeremiah’s death as Jace was, because she shoves the dead body aside to get at the door. Why bother showing respect for the dead when the guy she wants to bang might be hurt?
*Our “Heroes”: 4
It’s only after this that she gets any confirmation that the cell doesn’t have a random body in it, because it makes a noise. So Clary starts trying to open the door, but with no luck – the doors don’t have a physical locking mechanism, instead using magic. Raising the question of why they have hinges (which they do) in the first place.
Shoddy World Building: 2
So Clary whips out her not-a-wand and casts –Alohomora-
Knock an opening spell. Presumably, this is the same one Jace used to break into that church in the last book, which, I feel the need to remind you all, resulted in the lock being melted.
Well, Clary apparently got Ginny Weasley’s over-powered spells, because the door is ripped off its hinges and falls into the cell. Yep, she and Jace are definitely related – they have the same utter lack of subtlety.
Clary rushes into the cell, confirms that its occupant is indeed Jace, and starts making a catalog of his various injuries (read: bruises), once again showing her priorities. Every single Silent Brother has been brutally murdered? Pfft. Jace looks pale and has a few bruises? Get him to the emergency room!
Our “Heroes”: 5
Both Hands, Ma’am: 2
Then Clary starts stroking Jace and has all these tender feelings, all the while repeatedly emphasizing that they’re totally not because she wants to bone him. Nope. Not at all.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 3
CC, no one is buying it. You couldn’t give that away.
Jace wakes up, and is shocked to find that Clary’s there and he’s not dead. Clary explains that he passed out and may have hit his head. And I honestly can’t summarize this next bit. Behold:
His hand came up to cover hers where it lay on his cheek. “Worth it,” he said in such a low voice that she wasn’t sure it was what he’d said, after all.
“What’s going on?” It was Alec, ducking through the low doorway, Isabelle just behind him . Clary jerked her hand then cursed herself silently. She hadn’t been doing anything wrong.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 4
CC? Stop it. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s not remotely subtle.
Anyway, Alec and Isabelle enter the cell, and apparently didn’t see any of what just happened, despite Clary carrying one of their only sources of light with her and them standing right there. Alec asks Jace the following questions – “Are you hurt?”, “What happened?” and “Can you remember?” but Jace gets indignant, because apparently three questions (two, really, as the second and third are the same thing) are just too many for him to handle at the moment.
Isabelle asks Jace who hurt him (because remember, his minor injuries are a major concern) and Jace explains that he injured his own wrist. Being a big baby, he winces at the pain.
This causes both Alec and Clary to jump into action, because they both want to fondle Jace as much as possible. Alec manages to glare Clary into submission, and casts a healing spell. (I’d like to think it’s Cure Minor Wounds, but you just know Jace would treat a broken and bloody wrist on his off-hand as something requiring Cure Serious Wounds.)
For some reason, Jace asks about Brother Jeremiah, but when told that the Brother is dead, says that he already knows. I’d say this was to show Jace actually does care, except that he clearly doesn’t give a shit.
Isabelle asks if the Silent Brothers killed each other, but Jace explains vaguely that something else killed them. He then fakes having a headache or something (I refuse to believe he’s in any actual pain), presumably so he doesn’t have to mention that Valentine was there. You know, Jace, not mentioning a visit from your genocidal father kind of throws doubts on any claims that you’re not secretly loyal to him.
Now, were this a good book, I’d say this was a good way to do just that. But since A) we’ve already established that the one character who doesn’t trust Jace is our secondary villain, and B) Jace is CC’s little darling, and she won’t let anything bad happen to him ever, I’m not buying it. So while I may think it makes perfect sense for Jace to actually be loyal to Valentine, my reasons don’t line up with what CC insists.
Clary gets all nervous, and says they should get moving. And while she is being the typical frightened female, she is speaking sense. Jace says that the thing is gone, but admits that “he could still bring it back.” But just when Alec asks just who “he” is, Jace has yet another convenient fainting spell, causing Alec to forget his question.
Jace waves off Alec’s concern, saying that he’s alright, at which Alec points out that the only thing keeping him upright at the moment is the wall. And this would be a mildly funny moment, if CC didn’t once again ruin it by making sure that Jace always gets the last word. To whit,
“It’s leaning,” Jace told him. “Leaning comes right before standing.”
Rapier Twit: 1
CC, I’d be more forgiving of Jace constantly protecting his fragile ego if you weren’t doing the exact same thing all the time.
Isabelle then reminds everyone that she’s there by being the most adult person in the room and reminding them all that they should get going. Clary agree, fawns over Jace a bit more,
Both Hands, Ma’am: 5
but Alec cock-blocks her (or the female-equivalent) by offering to let Jace lean on him instead. But before we can finally leave, they have to stop and stare at Brother Jeremiah’s body a bit more. Isabelle gets further brownie points from me by taking Jeremiah’s hood and covering his face, so he at least has some dignity.
And then we get this bit of commentary from Alec and Jace
“I’ve never seen a Silent Brother afraid,” Alec said. “I didn’t think it was possible for them to feel fear.”
“Everyone feels fear.”
Yes, Jace, yes they do. The secret, though, is knowing what to do with that. Because despite what that terrible Will Smith/M. Night Shyamalan movie After Earth might claim, fear is not, in fact, a choice – how you react to it is.
After that bit of “wisdom”, Jace looks all shell-shocked, which elicits yet more concern from Clary.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 6
That done, they finally start heading for the exit. The description of which consists largely of Clary staring at Jace so we can get his reactions to this stuff, because his are the only ones that matter now.
Both Hands, Ma’am: 7
In the main chamber area, Jace makes some cryptic comment about something “[feeling] wrong,” which Alec rightly brushes off because they still need to get out of this place.
They make their way through the mausoleums, but when they get near the top of the stairs, they’re hit by a sudden bright light. And no summation I attempt will do this bit justice. See for yourselves:
“The sun couldn’t have risen yet— could it?” Isabelle murmured. “How long were we down here?”
Alec checked his watch. “Not that long.”
Jace muttered something, too low for anyone else to hear him. Alec craned his ear down. “What did you say?”
“Witchlight,” Jace said, more loudly this time.
You guys can’t tell the difference between the light given off by your magic glowing rocks and natural sunlight.
And I know that getting through this book is a slog, and CC sucks at conveying the passage of time, but there is no way that that little jaunt took more than an hour or two.
Finally, this is one of the most important locations for Shadowhunters, period. And it just got busted open like a kid’s piggy bank. Are you really that surprised that other Shadowhunters finally showed up?
I don’t have a count for this, guys. It’s not the characters being stupid for no reason at all. So I guess I’ll just go with this:
Almost done, guys.
So our less-than-intrepid heroes rush up the remaining stairs, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a whole bunch of other Shadowhunters just standing around with their thumbs up their butts.
And I guess someone pointed out the utter lack of diversity among Shadowhunters, because the first one to say anything at the kids’ appearance is a black guy (whose name is revealed to be Malik, so I assume he’s supposed to be from one of the Arabic parts of the world). And what does he say?
“By the Angel,” the man said . “Maryse— there was already someone down there.”
No Shit Sherlock: 2
You Keep Using that Word: 2
The first is because all thirty Shadowhunters can clearly see that. The second is because of CC’s continued use of Random Capitalization.
And how does Maryse respond to the sight of her kids dragging their adopted brother out of what’s supposed to be prison?
“I know, Malik,” she said. “These are my children.”
Once again, was that line missed in the revisions? Because that does not follow from the preceding one. How did Maryse know that her kids were down there? And if she did, why were she and the twenty-plus Shadowhunters present not sprinting down there to find them?
No, I know why that line is the way it is – because it’s a suitably dramatic statement to end a chapter on. Or it would be, if there were any drama to be wrung from this scene in the first place. Or this chapter, to be honest.
Because at no point is there ever any implication that anyone is in any danger. We already knew that Jace was fine, and that Clary & co. would find him. Maybe there could have been some tension if they had to figure out a way to get Jace out of his cell, but Clary’s inexplicable ability to cast super-spells shot that in the head.
Really, I’m more curious as to what the other Shadowhunters were so damn busy with that they weren’t already at the Silent City when the kids got there. You can’t tell me that they needed almost thirty people to investigate the death of one kid. And if they had to call in some of these people from other stations (or whatever), then why were all the ones in New York off playing CSI? Why didn’t the Silent Brothers have a means of contacting them directly? And if they did, why didn’t they?
CC’s tried to mimic the world of Harry Potter, but shot herself in the foot in the process. By making every member of her secret, magical, better-than-you society a warrior, it raises questions as to why they don’t all act like it.
You know what would have been better, at least from my perspective? Have Clary, Alec, and Isabelle show up at the entrance to the Silent City, only to find the other Shadowhunters already there. The kids find Maryse, and manage to get some basic information out of her – something attacked the Silent City, apparently killing everyone inside. The kids are worried.
Then someone says they found a survivor – and it’s Jace. He claims he doesn’t know anything, but everyone else (especially the Inquisitor) is skeptical. Clary, Alec, and Isabelle are more trusting, but do find it strange that Jace doesn’t remember anything about the attack. And the reader, knowing what actually happened, might start to wonder if Jace really is as innocent as he claims to be.
But that would require CC being willing to cast aspersions on her precious Jacey-poo, which will never happen.
Well, that’s chapter 6. Next time, we finish off the first part of this book.
Entirely Pointless: 0 (Total: 25)
Un-Logic: 0 (Total: 18)
You Keep Using That Word: 2 (Total: 27)
Shoddy World Building: 2 (Total: 14)
Rapier Twit: 1 (Total: 23)
Our “Heroes”: 5 (Total: 42)
No Shit Sherlock: 2 (Total: 6)
Both Hands, Ma’am: 7 (Total: 25)
A Word from Our Sponsors: 0 (Total: 2)